Australian election analysis 2016: Defcons matter — defiant non-left voters were “most influential group”

Australian election analysis 2016: Defcons matter — defiant non-left voters were the “most influential group”, by Joanne Nova, writing on the analysis of exit polls by the Australian Institute of Progress (AIP).

Defiant conservative shirt

Non-Greens third party voters (code for Defcons – or defiant conservatives [or delcons, delusional conservatives]) were more interested in “cultural issues like immigration, Islam, gay marriage, refugees, industry protection and political correctness”.

Graham Young, Executive Director of the AIP calls these voters the “most influential in Australia, effectively choosing who will form the government … The next election will be won by the party that manages to reap more than its fair share of the non-Greens minor party voters. They are up for grabs for Liberal or Labor.”

In the end, around 50% of the Delcons are prepared to put Labor above Liberal in preferences (the nuclear option) –  showing how wrong Mark Textor’s theory is that the Liberal base “doesn’t matter” and the Liberals should aim for the centre and can afford to mistreat their base.

Another theme I see is that parties need passion — when it’s missing from the base, it sure isn’t coming from the centre.

On Mediscare the data is very interesting:

One gratifying surprise is that the naked Mediscare campaign may have helped the Liberals and hurt the Labor Party. More people who named it as “important” were likely to be repelled by the scare. The Labor Party overdid it.

The people who were fooled by it were already voting Labor, and some of the people who might have voted Labor saw it as heavyhanded propaganda. The Labor party could have won more Defcons if it had been halfway sensible. Instead they retreated left to “the green centre” and so alienated centre voters. Many Delcons had no choice but to go to a third party. …

It was a naked, dishonest effort which involved a lot of people on the street repeating the same false accusation, handing out gimmicky cards, effectively trying to “create” an issue where there was none. In the end it probably swung more people, especially the Delcons, to the Liberals. The Labor Party could have captured more Delcons if it had been just not so damn grubby.

There was also an opportunity cost for Labor. By spending their time, credibility, and advertising dollars on Mediscare they didn’t spend it on an issue that would have worked better for them. (Perhaps their internal research could not identify a better issue?)

Joanne’s suggestions for the major political parties:

I think aiming for the real center still works, but not the imaginary fantasy “center”. The true center is sensible — they don’t want to pay to try to change the weather, nor symbolically lead the world on fringe issues. They don’t want governments to retrospectively change the rules. They do want hard work to be rewarded, and crime to be punished. They want welfare for the unfortunate, but not free gifts for freeloaders. It isn’t that complicated.